When it comes to the whole winter solstice thing that we all seem to do these days, myself included (this year we are in Toronto, and so went to the Kensington Market Solstice, where, along with a thousand or so other people, we paraded, samba’d, Celtic danced, lit paper lanterns, drank, and generally did whatever other pan-Pagan solstice things that we have appropriated and made our own); when it comes to celebrating the solstice, a lot more of us (myself included) celebrate the evening events, and sleep right through the next morning’s sunrise – itself, a significant part of the solstice cycle of death and re-birth.
I only realize this grand omission because I had to get up early to meet a friend for breakfast, but she had to cancel, so I decided to go for a walk and see what was up at my neighborhood indie cafe at College and Grace.
I walk out of my house right at that moment when the sun is rising up from the base of the CN Tower. If I needed a classic calendar pic of a winter Toronto sunrise this was it! The sun is coming up while children are running around the schoolyard (Clinton P.S.) and building snowmen and playing soccer and generally laughing and playing in the way we all did back when it was the last day of school and Christmas was only four days away. Nothing but schoolyard joy can be heard all up the block.
People are walking their dogs under a blue sky. Mothers say Merry Christmas to other parents who dropping off their kids. My partner stayed behind in our AirB&B, all nestled up in bed, warm and luxurious. It’s a beautiful morning.
Empire Cafe looks like the kind of cafe owned and designed by someone who spent some time looking for themselves in northern India. There are south-Asian, Nepalese, and Tibetan cushions and pillows and colors everywhere. There are no chairs, only a wide ledge around the base of the window, from which I can sit on the mountainside and watch the cars pass and follow the people as they walk to work. The sun continues to rise over the eastern top of the valley.
White. Black. Brown. Asian. Happy. Sad. Lost. Determined. Depressed. Indifferent. All the faces of all the people of all the time pass by the window. Both particle and wave. Ghosts made Form.
Sitting here on a pasha cushion, the sun now on my face, sipping my open access sustainable coffee, munching on a freshly made almond croissant, listening to some sort of south-east Asian trance fusion mushroomy type music, I realize we all play our archetypical role.
Even in our obsessively self-aware, post-modern, ironic times – we all still play our roles in the great story-telling myth play we participate in.
Oh how we cling to our hard-won facades. To our patterns of thinking, and doing. All the reasons we give ourselves to perpetuate our constructive and destructive behaviors.
We have never had so much and been so unhealthy in our entire human history.
Choking on our own pains and confusions and fears.
And just at this point in my thoughts a young woman scoops up her little liquid-brown puppy and he wags his tail furiously and licks her face every chance he gets. They come into the cafe together and everyone croons and fawns and smiles and is delighted.
As they walk down the street they are like the hand-held sparklers we had lit at last night’s solstice party.
My eyes follow them as they walk east on College. Some people smile and nod at them.
Quite a few, I realize, don’t even notice them.
They walk right on by.